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Senior pro Jyoti Randhawa benefited immensely from his European Tour experience to card a sizzling seven-under 65 under windy conditions and established a four-stroke lead in the McLeod Russel Tour Championship 2015 at Kolkata on Friday.
The Gurgaon-based Indian golfing icon shot two eagles, four birdies en route to securing tournament’s best seven-under 65 to total 11-under 133 midway into the 72-hole stroke play season-ending PGTI event at the Royal Calcutta Golf Course.
Bengaluru duo of Khalin Joshi and S Chikkarangappa were next best on the leaderboard at seven-under 137 in the Rs 1.5 crore championship that will also determine the winner in the Rolex Rankings of the Order of Merit.
The 43-year-old, Randhawa who was joint overnight leader along with four others, came out all guns blazing as he made two chip-ins in quick succession on the second and fourth, the first bird and the second for an eagle.
A winner of nine international titles, Randhawa made his only error on a windy day on the 10th where he overshot the green with his approach and as a result dropped a bogey. He then collected his second eagle of the day on the 15th and three more birdies on the last seven holes to end up with a seven-under. He landed his second shot within six feet for eagle on the par-5 15th before signing off with a 12-feet birdie conversion on the 18th.
“The wind worked to my advantage as I’m used to playing in such conditions, having played in Europe for seven years. My experience helped me negotiate the weather conditions,” Randhawa, who won his last title in March 2012, said.
Having missed out on his Asian Tour exemption by two spots, Joshi (70-67), a winner on the PGTI this year, sought to put behind the disappointment with a solid 67 that included seven birdies and two bogeys as he climbed four places form his overnight tied sixth.
Chikka (68-69), the overnight joint leader, mixed five birdies with two bogeys for his 69 to drop to joint second. Chikka, placed second in the Rolex Ranking, however, is still on course for the Rolex Player of the Year title as the leader Mukesh Kumar (73) of Mhow lies a distant tied 20th at one-under-143.
Kolkata’s Rahil Gangjee, who was part of the five-way lead in round one, slipped to tied fourth at six-under-138 after his second round of 70. Om Prakash Chouhan (68) of Mhow shared fourth place with Gangjee. Defending champion Shankar Das of Kolkata was bunched together with the Noida duo of Gaurav Pratap Singh and Amardip Sinh Malik in tied sixth at five-under-139.
The Kolkata duo of former champion SSP Chawrasia (72) and Divyanshu Bajaj (70) were in joint 14th along with four others at two-under-142.